This past weekend Variety’s Gabriel Snyder took the occasion to deride LIBERTAS and “conservative pundits, critics and bloggers” for trying to “turn” Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith into “this summer’s Fahrenheit 9/11. ” Mr. Snyder asserts that conservatives have “marshalled thin evidence” with respect to George Lucas’ intentions for the ‘Star Wars’ series, implying that conservatives have become paranoid-delusionals - hunting for dark intent where there is none. Here are excerpts from his curious article:
Inspiration for the incredibly close reading of the film is an interview George Lucas gave to Wired magazine. Two quotes – Fahrenheit 9/11 was a film that couldn’t “affect people who have made up their minds the other way” and “The thing I like about science fiction is that you can take issues, pull them out of their cultural straitjackets” – were interpreted to mean that Lucas intended ‘Star Wars’ as a liberal diatribe.
And then it was off to the rhetorical races.
On the blog Libertas, Jason Apuzzo wrote, “Lucas clearly wants to ‘affect’ people. … This is a bit like saying Goebbels was merely clumsy, but his intentions were pure.” Steve Silberman, the writer who interviewed Lucas for Wired, is dismayed by the sudden reaction, emailing furiously to tamp down misinterpretations. Replying on Libertas, for instance, he wrote, “I don’t know what interview you’re reading, but it wasn’t the one I had with Lucas.”
Mr. Snyder is a little late to the game, I’m afraid. As early as the mid-70’s Mr. Lucas began describing his ‘Star Wars’ story to his friends as a parable for America’s war in Vietnam - with America serving as the evil, hyper-technological Empire, and the ‘primitive’ Vietnamese as the Rebel Alliance. This is well known, and I’m privately able to confirm this through people who’ve known George for about 40 years. Mr. Snyder also might want to listen to Lucas’ DVD commentary for Phantom Menace, in which he refers to low-tech Vietnamese victories over high-tech American forces as “kind of inspiring.” If that isn’t sufficient, here is Mr. Lucas speaking at Cannes on Sunday, repeating what he’s been saying about the ‘Star Wars’ series for the past 30 years:
Lucas said he patterned his story after historical transformations from freedom to fascism, never figuring when he started his prequel trilogy in the late 1990s that current events might parallel his space fantasy. “As you go through history, I didn’t think it was going to get quite this close. So it’s just one of those recurring things,” Lucas said at a Cannes news conference. “I hope this doesn’t come true in our country. Maybe the film will waken people to the situation,” Lucas joked.
That comment echoes Moore’s rhetoric at Cannes last year, when his anti-Bush documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 won the festival’s top honor.
Unlike Moore, whose Cannes visit came off like an anybody-but-Bush campaign stop, Lucas never mentioned the president by name but was eager to speak his mind on U.S. policy in Iraq, careful again to note that he created the story long before the Bush-led occupation there.
“When I wrote it, Iraq didn’t exist,” Lucas said, laughing. “We were just funding Saddam Hussein and giving him weapons of mass destruction. We didn’t think of him as an enemy at that time. We were going after Iran and using him as our surrogate, just as we were doing in Vietnam. … The parallels between what we did in Vietnam and what we’re doing in Iraq now are unbelievable.”
The prequel trilogy is based on a back-story outline Lucas created in the mid-1970s for the original three “Star Wars” movies, so the themes percolated out of the Vietnam War and the Nixon-Watergate era, he said.
I’d also add that Mr. Lucas recently described himself as a “liberal” to Time Magazine - so I think we can dispense with accusations that we’re making this stuff up out of thin air. What controversy is being caused here is purely of Mr. Lucas’ doing.
The irony of all this - which I don’t expect Mr. Snyder to grasp, judging from the inaccuracy of his article - is that I’ve gone out of my way as recently as yesterday (see my ‘Sith’ review below) to stress that Mr. Lucas’ politics have relatively little to do with his new film, which I actually enjoyed. In fact, my chief complaint with Mr. Lucas is that he’s deceiving critics and entertainment journalists about what they’re getting with Sith - precisely in order to curry favor with them. Mr. Lucas has been mercilessly attacked by entertainment critics for years, and I think he’s finally decided to ‘market’ to them the same way he markets to children (by coddling them).
On a more personal note, Mr. Snyder cleverly juxtaposes Steve Silberman’s quote against mine, implying that Mr. Silberman was responding to me. He wasn’t. He was responding to another commenter on this site. Mr. Silberman and I have engaged in a lively and civilized debate here at LIBERTAS (and by phone), but we’re otherwise very much in agreement about the overall merit of Mr. Lucas’ film.
I’m wondering if this is the same Gabriel Snyder who attended Yale with Govindini Murty, one of the contributors to this blog. That Gabriel Snyder was known for participating in ‘Student Labor Action Coalition’ sit-ins at the Yale President’s office, promoting tuition boycotts, organizing an ACLU chapter on the Yale campus, and attempting to block Ralph Reed from speaking at Yale.
8 Comments »
The URI to TrackBack this entry is: http://www.libertyfilmfestival.com/libertas/wp-trackback.php/374
Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed:
<a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>